Title: The Word for Kiss is “Mureyca” Author: Raissa Baiard Genre: fluff, romance, AU Characters: Kazuda Xiono, Wren Ordo (OC) Timeline: Saga, ca. 26 ABY Synopsis: Kaz demonstrates his new facility in Mando’a for Wren. Notes: This is part of my big, honking AU, the Marzra-verse. I loved Kaz on Resistance and couldn’t resist (ha!) bringing him into the big, honking ‘verse so he could hang out with my next gen Spectre kids. For that reason, he’s a bit younger here than in canon. This story immediately follows “Meet the Aliit”, in which Kaz’s family visits Wren’s at the Ordo stronghold. Many thanks to @Findswoman for beta reading and unflagging encouragement. Vor’e! ——- Twilight was settling over the plains of Ordo when Wren and her ori’vod (and ori’shya vod!) Kaz made their way down the path past the clan stronghold, through stands of ornamental frond grass and clusters of rough-hewn stone, to a small wooded grove where a stand of veshok trees grew near a stream. She sat down under the largest veshok and opened her satchel, pulling out two large, flimsi-wrapped slices of the uj’alayi she’d baked that morning and a carafe of behot tea. Kaz settled down next to her; she handed him a slice of uj cake, which he unwrapped with alacrity. “It’s too bad you don’t have your Blurrg with you,” Wren said, peeling the flimsi back from a corner of her cake to take a bite. “This is where I like to come for some target practice. Though the training remote isn’t as much fun as blowing chunks off old Sithy’s stone head.” There had been something ridiculously satisfying about further defacing the broken Sith statue she’d used as a target on Korriban. “Mmm, well…” Kaz said around a large mouthful of the sticky, syrup-laden uj’alayi. “Father wouldn’t let me bring it. But I’ve been keeping up with my marksmanship practice. I’m almost sixty percent accurate now!” “Hey, that’s not bad!” Not up to Mando standards, of course, but given that Kaz had only shot a blaster for the first time a few months earlier, she was really proud of him. He’d stuck with it despite its difficulty, but that was Kaz—always earnest and willing to go the extra klick. It was one of the things she loved about him. “Well, you know, I had a pretty good teacher.” He grinned, nudging her shoulder with his. “And I...I’ve been learning a few words in Mando’a, too.” “I noticed!” Wren smiled, remembering how he’d greeted them in slightly awkward, badly accented, but eminently sincere Mando’a. “What can you say besides ‘su cuy’gar’?” “Oh, you know, the usual stuff—elek, nayc, ret’uryce mhi…” “What else?” Because from the way Kaz shrugged and fiddled with the corner of the flimsi wrap from his uj’alayi, there was something. “What? No, nothing else, really. Just, you know, stuff…” “It must have been some pretty interesting ‘stuff’. The back of your neck is turning red,” Wren observed. “You looked up all the swear words, right? It’s okay; I know them already. Ronen knows them and he’s a Jedi.” “No, that’s not… okay, I looked up a couple of them, but that’s—that’s not it… It’s just…” Kaz looked up from the crumpled flimsi and took a deep breath. “Okay, don’t laugh— Nee mid-ree gar coo-ee kandosee-la.” He spoke slowly and distinctly, like he’d memorized the phrase syllable by syllable, and was being extra careful not to botch it up. Between his exaggeratedly phonetic pronunciation and stilted grammar, Wren had to think a bit to parse it into serviceable Mando’a— Ni midri gar cuyi kandosii’la. I think you are… Well, “kandosii’la” could mean a lot of things when it was translated in Basic. Indomitable. Classy. Amazing. Awesome. However you meant it, though, it was definitely a compliment, a really good one. It was the kind of thing Wren was used to hearing people—and guys in particular—say about Bellona, but she figured no one would ever say about her. She grappled for something to say in return, because “thanks” felt particularly lame after Kaz had gone through all the trouble of learning how to flirt in a foreign language. Learning “hello” and “good-bye” could be just politeness to her family, but this—he’d done this just for her and it was more than she could ever have expected. He wasn’t done, either. Kaz took both of her hands in his. “Gar coo-ee maysh-la.” Gar cuyi mesh’la. You are beautiful. All the words Wren knew in either Basic or Mando’a deserted her, flying like so many lepidoptera before she could pin any of them down. She felt like she was on one of those fun park coaster rides that went in so many loops that you didn’t know which way was up anymore, and her head and heart were in freefall going down the last drop. Wren squeezed his hands tightly—maybe a little too tightly—to assure herself that this was real and really happening. “Kaz..” “Wait, there’s, um, there’s one more…” he leaned towards her, his voice dropping to a low, husky whisper. “Mer-ay-ka.” It took Wren a minute to come up with something in Mando’a that would put that sort of look in his eyes. (Marekar? Mar’eyce?) And then it hit her— Not merayka. Mureyca. Kiss. “Mureyca,” she blurted, because that single word was the only thing that managed to penetrate the warm and fuzzy haze surrounding her brain. “That’s how you say it in Mando’a.” And then she wanted to kick herself in the shebs, hard, because correcting Kaz’s pronunciation was probably not the best thing to do at a moment like this. Way to kill the mood, di’kut... Maybe another guy would have been offended, but this was Kaz, her ori’vod, and he took it in stride. “Oh, right...Moor-ay-sha,” he agreed, pronouncing it with exquisite care, his lips rounded almost to a kiss on the “oo-” as he leaned towards her. And then “mureyca” was no longer just a word. It was the moment that their noses bumped and Kaz chuckled sheepishly, tilted his head a little and leaned in again. The moment his lips met hers, warm and a little sticky, flavored like uj’alayi. The moment she closed her eyes and leaned into the kiss, wishing that it could last forever. Mureyca. “Jate,” Wren breathed, when she could breathe again. Was she grinning like a starry-eyed moof-milker? Probably, but she was good with that. “Good. I mean, your Mando’a is really good, but there’s another word you need to know: tug’yc. Again,” she explained at his quizzical look. A starry-eyed, moof-milking grin stole over Kaz’s features. “Too-geesh,” he repeated—and what else could Wren do but oblige? This kiss was a little longer and more certain, though still a bit sticky with uj syrup, and it still made Wren feel like a starry-eyed moof-milker in the best possible way. She sighed and nestled her head against Kaz’s shoulder, looking out over the plains as the stars came out. Who’d have thought that teaching Kaz some Mando’a could be even more interesting than their marksmanship lessons? There were a few other words and phrases she thought she’d like to teach him: “cyar’ika”, “kar’ta”— maybe even “ni kar’tayli darasuum” someday. But for right now, maybe they’d just concentrate on mureyca . ———— Mando’a words and phrases: Ori’vod: best friend, special friend Ori’shya vod: more than friends Su cuy'gar: hello Elek: yes Nayc: no Ret’urcye mhi: good-bye Ni midri gar cuyi kandosii’la: I think you’re awesome Gar cuyi mesh’la.: you’re beautiful Mureyca: kiss Marekar: navigation Mar’eyce: discovery Di’kut: idiot Jate: good Tug’yc: again Cyar’ika: sweetheart, darling Kar’ta: heart, soul Ni kar’tayli darasuum: I love you.